Cal Fussman

65: Questions, Storytelling, Adventure (Part 1)

This conversation, just like Cal Fussman, gets better as it goes. I really enjoy the conversations, that at the end, I walk away saying, man, I’d love to spend more time with him/her….This was one of those conversations. 

He’s known for his skill of asking great questions — yet his talent of storytelling is world class. 

Questions are to illicit responses and engagement — and — there is so much more beneath the surface of an answer — body gestures, emotions, hints of motivation, and ultimately, snips of the framework that the person is working to share how they understand the world (and people). It’s all in there — does the responder orientate to protect, to embrace…. to explore, to have fun? And — Cal takes that understanding to the next level by doing it artistically through storytelling. 

We all have a story — thousands of stories. Cal pulls back the curtain to share his — and the challenge is set for us all to become better at asking questions to learn other’s stories — and — to become thoughtful on how we share our own stories with people who are thoughtful — caring — interested — enough to offer their time and attention. 

This is a two-part episode — it’s too good, way too good to cram. When you listen to Cal’s stories, listen for the framework, for the stuff underneath the surface — and — also see if you can listen to how he constructs his stories. 

We also talk about the art of interrupting others — during storytelling — He doesn’t — I do, and we have fun with it (and if you’ve ever wondered why I purposefully  interrupt folks — it’s all by design, and we talk about it just a bit in this conversation).

“Asking ‘why?’ makes a person who knows something about a subject think deeper about it. Just the word why. It makes you stop and look inward.”

In This Episode:

  • Moving to LA to help Larry King write his autobiography
  • The art of speaking less in an interview
  • His thoughts on interruptions during interviews
  • Why you should never ask a two-part question
  • His favorite question to ask… “Why?”
  • Breaking bread with Robert De Niro
  • Learning patience and storytelling from his mom during his adolescence
  • Not having money and wanting to do something different than dad
  • How his internal drive to explore led him to riding trains to new places
  • Why he would never sit next to an empty seat
  • His process for organizing his thoughts and putting them on paper
  • His ability to listen, put himself in someone else’s shoes and feel what they feel
  • Curiosity as a driving force in why he does what he does
  • The lesson he received on not discriminating against those of beauty and fame
  • Being ordinary in front of extraordinary people
  • Why he gives a gift to everyone he interviews

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